Where is it?
Marfa is a town of less than 3,000 located in the Chihuahuan Desert in West Texas.
I first heard of Marfa 10 years ago, when I read that the town was hosting a 50th anniversary screening of the movie "Giant". In 1955, Hollywood took over the tiny town to start filming the iconic movie. El Paisano became home to much of the cast for 6 weeks. Taylor, Hudson and Dean all had rooms at the hotel, although some moved over to private homes after a while. During the filming period, locals were invited to see bits of the progress on film at the Palace Theatre, across from Paisano.
Ground was broken to build this 65 room hotel, just before the stock market crashed. The Henry Trost designed hotel managed to thrive. It was considered the most elegant hotel between San Antonio and El Paso, hosting cattle ranchers and tourists in search of dry desert air.
Classy Cowboy Style
Classy? Well, I don't usually think of longhorns and buffalo heads as being classy, but there's a Rich-Ranchy feel to the place. The painted ceiling beams and shiny tile floors are my favorites!
The hotel can be entered from Main Street, or through the courtyard. This painted window looks out to the courtyard, which seems to attract more lounging guests than these wood and leather, lobby chairs. The lobby is cozy... but dim.
The wild beasts give the place a "lodgey" feel.
I've never seen anyone in the pool. There's sort of an odd feel to the pool room, which was added on in 1960, when I guess travelers expected pools. The big trees are nice through the windows but it seems out of place. I'm not sure why I've never been lured to swim.
The Other Side
On the opposite side of the lobby from the pool, there are a number of spaces. There's another darkish room, filled with "Giant" memorabilia. As you can see James Dean is standing there keeping an eye on all those framed articles and knickknacks, as well as the old TV, running the movie 24 hours a day. Also at the "front end" of the hotel, there is a fabulous gift shop with some very cool and unusual finds. There's a gallery and a shop...and I think a work-out space somewhere?
#1 Mystery Room
This small room was made spacious by the French doors leading to the walled in terraace with fireplace. It wasn't until we checked out the next day that we learned the room had just recently opened. The door to this room had been hidden behind a wall, but it was obvious from the outside that there must be another room. The door and room was revealed and then renovated. We were assured that a staff member spent a night in the room before it was open to guests. There could have been some wild ghost activity depending on the story behind the room closure! And no one seemed to know that story.
The best part of Mystery Room was the balcony and morning view! I had to stand on the ledge to get a good view, but what a sight! Morning light, glowing on the old courthouse and quaint water tower!
#2 James Dean Room
This room with the old radiator is the actual room where J. Dean stayed during part of the filming. He evidently was the most friendly of all the stars and often played pool in the hotel basement and mingled with the locals. This of course was his last movie (of only 3) since his fatal car accident occurred during post production.
The tile work was awful fun and you could practically take a seat on the toilet while you showered... if you actually wanted to! Funny.
#3 Room With Courtyard View
Evening in the Courtyard
This was actually one of the larger, nicer rooms with terrace overlooking the courtyard. This might have been our favorite room of the 3, but our next door neighbors also shared the balcony. And they were having a bit of a party, which was pretty darn annoying. It would have been perfect if we'd had friends or family joining us on the balcony instead!
Two of our three visits were in warm months when the festive lights and gurgling fountain lured us right into the courtyard. On a winter visit, I think they had a fire pit, to make the chilly night festive. But maybe I just wished that up. ??
We did have some fun people watching in the courtyard on our warm weather visits. We chatted with a few locals and a couple tourists. Some were dining outside of Jett's Grill and there were a couple rambunctious kiddos who enjoyed climbing through the lobby window to fetch an apple from the complimentary fruit bowl.
Dressing For Dinner
Our Marfa trips have always included other stops, so sometimes you have to wear some purchases for dinner. Here I am in the Nepalese made jacket, purchased at Big Bend National Park AND some awesome used cowboy boots from an antique shop in Alpine. The bar at Jett's (named for James Dean's character of course) was a great place to converse with a good mix of locals. Where else can you chat with ranch hands at one end of the bar and a film maker at the other? Dinner was good as well.
I love this hotel because it allows me to imagine the past!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!